The fight against spread of Covid 19 viral disease suffered a major setback on Thursday after two of the infected patients succumbed to the highly contagious pandemic as infections doubled over the last two days.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe informed the country during his daily briefing that twenty nine out of six hundred cases sampled for testing over the last 24 hours, tested positive to Coronavirus further pushing the national figures to 110.
He said the two deaths from Nairobi and Mombasa brings the number of those who died of the disease since the first case was confirmed on the 12th of last month to three.
Kagwe also released a raft of measures the government intended see adhered to in an effort to contain further spread of the pandemic asking Kenyans to seriously take the steps to roll back the double digit infection rates witnessed over the last two days.
He said the stiffer measures include that all BodaBoda , tuktuk and matatu drivers together with their passengers must wearing protective face masks.
He announced that the government had begun local production of affordable face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for health workers to ensure that they were accessible to majority Kenyans .
He said that the government will be able to distribute the masks that are available through the Counties and also to the boda boda, tut-tuk and Matatus through their associations starting tomorrow.
“Going forward it will also now be possible for one to acquire the masks from the tailors and cheaply too but they have to use the right materials since not all materiasl can be used”, he explained.
The CS has further gone ahead to re-emphasize on the need for Kenyans not to travel up country especially for the coming Easter holidays.
“We are discouraging mass movement of people staying in Nairobi from travelling upcountry. The dangers of this are real. It is very easy to transfer the virus to those living up country especially the elderly”, he said
CS Kagwe confirmed that the situation on corona virus in the country is not getting any better, and that the disease is a pandemic thus stiffer measure to deal with the disease.
In order to heighten level of preparedness, the CS said that the government has now instructed that with immediate effect the hiring of 5000 skilled health workers across the country begins immediately with the finalizing of hiring within the next 7 days.
Counties, he added who have submitted their requirements should also complete the process by Wednesday next week while the hospitals who have given their requirements from the level 4, 5 and 6 required to continue hiring.
“We wish that in the next 7 days the hospital too will have hired an additional 1000 health workers and this means that at least 6000 additional health workers will be in place to fight the pandemic”, Kagwe said.
He asked that County Commissioners and Head teachers who are involved in boarding facilities and those involved in preparation of food in those boarding facilities to start planning ahead for any eventuality.
“ We would like to see depending on population of county an additional 1000 bed capacity as quarantine facilities in boarding school s and hospital”, he said
He explained that the two patients who had tested positive and died today, one was in Nairobi and the other in Mombasa and this number now brings a total of 3 deaths from the virus in the country
The CS further explained that the 29 confirmed positive cases were from a total test of 662 samples that were tested in the last 24 hours and out of those twenty eight (28) were Kenyans while one is a Congolese.
This now brings the total number of those who have tested positive for the disease in the country to 110.
“We have placed the 29 people into isolation in our various health facilities and contact tracing has commenced. The distribution of these new cases according to facilities of admission is Aga Khan University Hospital had 3, Crown Plaza Airport reported 11 , Four points Sheraton Airport had 1, KISE had 2, KITI Nakuru 2 , KMTC had 5, KNH had 1, Mathari Hospital had 1, Nairobi Hospital also had 1 and Pride Inn Azzure had 2”, Kagwe said.
In terms of gender the CS noted that there are 13 additional males and 16 females whose ages range from 16 to 64 years. Twenty three (23) of them were detected in the designated quarantine facilities while six (6) are from suspected cases admitted in isolation units in various Health facilities.
“ Fellow Kenyans I do not want to scare you, but with the figures, the number is likely to rise. It is important to note that this virus does not move by itself. It is moved by you and I. we must change our behavior and attitude if we have to cut the transmission of the virus”, CS Kagwe said
In spite of all this, the CS however confirmed that the Deputy Governor of Kilifi County Gideon Saburi , who had been placed under mandatory quarantine has fully recovered and had been declared fit after being subjected to three tests, all of which turned negative.
He however said that law will now take effect on him following his ignorance in self quarantining after he came back in the country from abroad.
Dr. Patrick Amoth , the Acting Director General , Ministry of Health said there is already local transmission now in the country and that there are having pockets of clusters of transmission from various counties.
“Out of the over 100 plus cases that have been confirmed about 30 or 40 are local transmission with no history of travel , others with no history of contact with COVID 19. We are in the era of local transmission”, he confirmed.
On the issue of distribution of masks, Dr. Amoth said putting on mask is an additional measure to deploy especially in matatus and public places.
By Wangari Ndirangu